Interior of Palace on Wheels train
Even experienced travelers agree that one of the best ways to see a
new destination is by watching its landscapes unfold through the
panoramic window of a railcar. India, already known for its “Palace
on Wheels,” understands the lure of the rails and continues to
introduce new programs that allow visitors to focus on the
country’s rich cultural, historical and social fabric.
Palace on Wheels
One of the world’s most luxurious rail tours, the famed Palace on
Wheels takes visitors on a literal and figurative journey through
India. Passengers delight in the scenery of Rajasthan, while also
enjoying an opulent excursion down memory lane. Transporting guests
back to the exotic days of the Maharajah, the Palace on Wheels
features regal passenger coaches, white-glove service and
first-class onboard amenities. The train’s popularity with new and
repeat visitors, however, has occasionally made finding available
In 2008, an all new “Palace on Wheels II” will hit the tracks,
connecting Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Bharatpur in
Rajasthan. The new service promises to be even more deluxe than the
original, featuring all-suite accommodations and such ultra-modern
amenities as a dance floor, broadband Internet, spa and massage
center and a boardroom.
Many of India’s sites, such as the Taj
can be visited by train.
Introduced in late 2007, The Golden Chariot is a new luxury rail
tour traveling through Karnataka province’s World Heritage Sites.
In addition to a full sightseeing complement, passengers can also
enjoy such onboard amenities as Wi-Fi service, plasma televisions
and a railcar completely dedicated to Ayurvedic spa treatments.
The tour begins in Bangalore, then travels to Mysore,
Shravanbelgola, Belur, Halebid, Hampi, Badami, Aihole and
Pattadakal, witnessing an eclectic range of attractions, from
ancient palaces to wildlife sites and pilgrimage shrines. The
Golden Chariot stops at Hampi, formerly the capital of the
14th-century Vijayanagara Empire, and Badami with its finely
chiseled temples, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Before
returning to Bangalore, visitors will spend a day relaxing on the
golden sands of Goa.
Buddhist Circuit Trains (Maha Parinirvan
In October, India also welcomed a special rail program designed to
retrace the steps of Buddha.
The eight-day tour program, travels to landmarks such as
Bodhgaya, where Buddha found enlightenment; Rajgir, Kushinagar and
Nalanda, home of some of the oldest universities in the world;
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha; and Agra, famed home of the
|2008 PATA TRAVEL MART|
Travel agents now have another way to learn about India’s
offerings by attending the 2008 PATA Travel Mart, to be held in
Hyderabad, Sept. 16-19.
“India is definitely growing in popularity,” said Vikas Rustagi,
director of the India Tourism office in Los Angeles. “The country
is now one of the top 10 destinations in the world.”
Last year, the country welcomed 4.5 million international
visitors, an 18 percent increase over 2005. The U.S. is India’s
second-largest inbound market. Airline connectivity to India is
growing, and all major international carriers now offer routes
between India and the U.S. Singapore Airlines, for example, flies
to 11 destinations in India with 54 weekly departures. The airline,
in cooperation with India Tourism, has developed the “Essence of
India,” promoting India packages offered by U.S. tour
India is also focusing much attention on rural and sustainable
“Many visitors want to experience a life of simplicity, and the
country has identified 50 special villages in rural areas,” Rustagi
Several pre- and post-tour programs will be available during the
PATA Travel Mart, allowing agents to experience for themselves
India’s expanded offerings.
2008 HOTELS ON THE HORIZON
Opening early 2008, the Four Seasons Mumbai features some of the
largest rooms in the city, many overlooking the Arabian Sea.
Three new Westin properties are planned for India. The Westin
Hyderabad, Mindspace, and the Westin Pune, Koregaon Park, are
scheduled for 2009, while the Westin Kolkata Rajarhat is planned
Bangalore, often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India, will
welcome the Ritz-Carlton Bangalore in 2010.
Essence of India, Singapore Airlines
Palace on Wheels